Title: Pathfinder: Kingmaker
Release Date: 25 Sep, 2018
Best CRPG there is right now. Better than Baldur's Gate. The number of directions you can take characters is more than 1x10^6 and you would require more time than you are likely to have in your lifetime to do enough replays to do all the combinations of choices. Don't get caught on the way a character bio panel looks at first, it will change three or more times as the story progresses and each character goes through various ordeals and twists. Consequences are often permanent, and your choices matter. You can definitely take too long to get to a quest, and it will have changed based on how long you waited to do it - that can be bad or good, depending on your perspective.
The writing is wonderful. There's more text than most small novels. This is kind of game where you can enjoy a break and read the books, read the scrolls, the letters, the diaries, the quest text, and often those are the clues you need to in order to get your bearings on what to do next without cheating via Google.
The game is very close to PnP rules. This provides a lot of challenge and management of resources; you can't just spam fireball all day. If you play as if you're braindead then you might just do nothing but let your melee AFK attack stuff, but you won't do so well there. Instead, your spells will have a huge impact on the battlefield and on skill checks, but you can't spam spells, so play smart.
I recommend this for anyone who wants to enjoy a truly dynamic story that requires replay to get all of it, dynamic characters, challenging tactical battles, the pressure of leading a kingdom with limited resources and time is against you and intrigue is all around, the feeling of victory in the face of defeat, the primal emotions of loss or betrayal or trust or friendship, the pure fantasy of it all.
My dream job is screenwriter for video games, and from that perspective, I thoroughly enjoyed this game.. All this game is doing so far is making me want to replay Baldur's Gate 2.
*Story is rushed and unimaginative. "Yes, you did A, now it's time to do B, logic shall prevail". Perhaps I'm not into the story far enough, but so for each story outcome is predictable and you just want to be done with it.
*Companions are one of the strongest points of the game. I found dialogues with them interesting and each has a unique back story. Well done there.
*Companion AI, however, is non existent. Feels bugged, but read on forums it's intended to be this way - sad. You'll be lucky to get a spell cast during combat. 95% of the time there will be just a \u2665\u2665\u2665\u2665\u2665\u2665\u2665\u2665 charge to the nearest enemy (yes, even cleric classes do this -- so much for healing from a safe distance...). You can set ONE favorite spell in the hot bar, so your companion will just spam it whenever possible like a monkey pulling a lever... BG2 had WAY better AI and was released 20 YEARS AGO. I'm hoping mods will fix AI, but currently AI is terrible.
*Combat. I don't know what they messed up exactly, but it just feels way OFF. Either it's too fast - few hits and the whole enemy group is dead. OR too sluggish that - one fight I left my party to hit an enemy mob, went to the bathroom, went to get a drink and when I sat down they finally won the battle (wish I was making this up). Not satisfying at all, one of the worst parts of the game along with AI.
*Items. So far found 1 unique item from a boss playing 14 hours. Tried exploring and finding hidden lore, hidden items like you do in BG2 but nope, it's just 99% garbage, +1 and +2 weapons\/armor. Again, might be too early into the game but so far was not impressed.
*Castle management and exploration. Cool concepts in an RPG, though didn't feel much reward in managing the castle so far -- just a mini strategy game within an RPG.
Might change my review playing further, but right now it's not looking good...
. Game is just unsatisfying as a tabletop conversion. The encounters are built for optimization with hilariously overbuffed stats; "Normal" has enemies running around with significantly inflated stats over the tabletop game, and the mechanics behind those don't help either.
Basically the game is designed to be played on Easy or lower if you play the game as an actual RPG. If you're a min-max enthusiast using a mod to respec the poorly-statted companion characters, then you'll be fine on Normal+. Normal is also doable with strong-but-not-full-cheese builds if you enjoy save scumming fights repeatedly.
Goblins shouldn't have 21 AC. Skeletons shouldn't have +12 to damage. I've played a LOT of D&D 3.5, and a fair bit of Pathfinder. Now, someone people think it's great that the game can be made harder. I would agree with them. But breaking the system's core math by inflating enemy stats beyond the curve isn't the solution for Normal difficulty. I know I can take Monk and\/or Paladin dips on my melee characters to boost their defenses to outrageous levels, but I should be able to play logical straight-class characters on Normal without having the provided companion Barbarian get one-shot by a skeleton who mysteriously does d12+12 damage per attack.
The description of "The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is an evolution of the 3.5 rules set of the world's oldest fantasy roleplaying game" isn't wrong, but what has been done here isn't an evolution but a degeneration into a powergamer's death march through absurdly inflated stats and a real lack of imagination on encounter design.. There are some balance issues, occasionally forcing me to reduce the difficulty setting, but overall a fun, solid game. If you liked BG back in the day, this should please you. Best money I have spent on a game in a while.. There're already lots of reviews about Pathfinder:Kingmaker so I'll keep it short.
In short, every good thing you've heard about this game is true. Fully realised Pathfinder ruleset, enormous adventure, decisions truly matter, great setting and the next best 'dungeons and dragons style game' after Baldur's Gate.
Everything bad you've heard about this game is also true. Unbalanced encounters, poor pacing, bugs, loading times, questionable design choices.
But I would say the good far outweigh the bad. Proof is I just can't stop playing this game! If you liked Baldur's Gate you owe it to yourself to give this adventure a spin!. Enemies have inflated stats, NPCs are idiots, your party members are treacherous and their builds poorly designed and at times you are given multiple contradictory objectives, your survival is almost entirely attributable to luck, and the alignment system borders on insane.
12\/10, accurate representation of the tabletop experience.. This has the makings of a good classic-style CRPG, but there are too many things wrong with it for me to be able to recommend it. The main problem as I see it is an almost complete lack of direction on what needs to be done to progress in the narrative. Most of the time I've spent playing this I've been completely confused as to what my task was at any given moment, so that I didn't feel any sort of engagement with the story. It seems to have been thrown together really haphazardly. If you enjoy a lot of aimless wandering, wondering what it is exactly that you're supposed to be doing, this is the game for you. The other main strike against it is that by and large, it's just plain booooring. It seems that in their zeal to emulate classic CRPGs like Baldur's Gate, they forgot to pay any attention to narrative cohesion. It also has one of the absolute worst mapping systems of any CRPG I've played. In places like Old Sycamore, the map is absolutely useless; it literally just shows one big black blob, with no sense of where passages are or what area is connected to what: what then is the point of even having a map?!?. The game's flaws, mechanically, are numerous and annoyingly dumb. This looks like a game made by someone who skimmed the back of a Pathfinder book and "winged" the rest. Just the fact that they used the exhausted mechanic to make you go to a river and speak to a person is beyond dumb. When they then don't just have you experience it once, but EVERY GOD DAMN time you rest (which lead to me having to remove my armor and shield to be able to travel to the idiot and speak to him for 30 seconds) is a massive \/facepalm. It's not good storytelling, it's just annoying and frustrating. Then you have the fight with the Stag Lord. You are massively outnumbered and several of the opponents do crits of up to 50(!) hp to your characters on easy! On higher difficulty it just gets ludicrous. I'm a D&D Dungeon Master of more than 30 years, and I've played quite a few campaigns. One of my absolute favorites of all time are Baldurs Gate and Planescape - Torment. Those games, 20 years older than this mess, knew how to set up difficulty properly. They didn't use mechanics "because muh reasons" to force players to do story points, ESPECIALLY not a mechanic which makes it impossible for the player to get to the story point you want them to travel to!
I was uncertain whether I should buy the game when it was released, so I waited for a sale. This game isn't even worth it at 50% off.. I have only played the game on easy mode, but I have this to say:
1) It is definitely not that difficult. If you can't beat it on hard, lower the difficulty. No brainer, really.
2) Don't know anything about the balance. On the difficulty I play (and I play ALL RPGs on Easy, beacause I don't waste my time on trying to be cool when I can just enjoy the story) this is not an issue.
3) The story is OK, but it's not great. The characters are the weakest link: most feel generic fantasy stuff, with a few notable exceptions such as the eschatological dwarf.
4) The realm management is great. While not a strategy game, you really do feel personally in charge of your kingdom. In fact, it is much superior to DA:Inquisition.
To round up: I would definitely recomend the game to any fans of DA:Origins, Icewind Dale or any of the older Bioware titles, also to those who want a blend of strategy and RPG. I would not recomend it to anyone who thinks they are great gamers and that the world of game development revolves around them.. I had been greatly anticipating this game from the moment that I had first heard about it. I did not purchase this game when it first released, because I desperately hoped that this game would live up to my expectations. I was hoping that this would be the game that finally returned that feeling of nostalgic greatness that I have been unable to find since the Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights series of games, and I didn't want to ruin that experience by playing an unfinished and buggy game. I let the early reviews dampen my enthusiasm and cause me to hesitate to buy this game. Eventually I did purchase the game, but I was still worried enough by the reports of bugs that I delayed playing it for quite a while.
Maybe all of those negative reviews were just greatly exaggerated, or maybe I just happened to wait the right amount of time, but this game is absolutely rewarding my patience. At least through Chapter 3 the game has been free of any noticeable bugs during my first play-through. Well, my first dedicated play-through, since I am a chronic re-starter. It leaves me wondering how many of the reported bugs were actually the responsibility of Owlcat Games, and how many were the result of people modding this game on Nexxus Mods. There are a fair number of mods available already, and I am sure that some of them can cause problems that should not be blamed on the game itself.
Anyways, I love this game. I enjoy this game far more than most of the games that have been released over the last decade. I prefer Pathfinder over The Witcher 3 (beautiful game, and great writing, but I hate playing pre-made characters) and even TES: Skyrim (base game kinda sucks, pretty enough with mods, but shallow and empty feeling). I love the variety of options that the base Pathfinder game allows for me to create for my main character. I love that I get to control a whole party of characters instead of just one moody prick. I love that I can fill out my party with characters of my own design if I don't like the pre-made Companions. I don't really care for the pre-made Companions all that much, which is one of my few complaints with Pathfinder.
I absolutely love the difficulty level of the game, the fact that it doesn't hold your hand or let you just bull-doze your way through everything. People love to complain about unbalanced encounters and total party-wipes against impossible opponents. Those people should just turn the the difficulty down to story mode. Most of their issues are easily solved by utilizing stealth to scout an area, using the lore skills to identify the strengths and weaknesses of foes, and and preparing the proper spells and strategies for defeating specific foes. Sure, it is still possible to find encounters that you should avoid until later, but that is a good thing. It forces you to use that hunk of grey-matter between your ears that most people let wither away into an atrophied husk. There is a sense of accomplishment when you win a really tough fight that most games don't give you. Maybe your low level party should avoid those swarms of spiders or that dragon until later.
I could carry on writing for quite a while about how much fun this game is, but I would rather get back to playing it. If you have ever enjoyed an D&D style RPG on the computer then I would suggest that you get to playing it as well. If you can relate to what i have written then I guarantee that you won't be disappointed with Pathfinder. It is epic on the level of Baldur's Gate II and Neverwinter Nights 2, with even more to offer for a single-player game.
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